For weeks now, there has been significant chatter that Supreme Court Justice, Anthony Kennedy, might be retiring this summer. Kennedy was speculated to announce his Retirement at his law clerk reunion, but after it came and went without any mention of retirement, many thought the rumors of Kennedy's retirement were nothing more than just that. Until...

Evidence surfaced suggesting Kennedy will retire in the next year

On July 1, NPR's Nina Totenberg was reporting on an analysis of Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch's record of voting alongside Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas: the court's most conservative member. In Totenberg's article, she highlights that Kennedy, who typically searches for freshmen law clerks more than a year in advance, has yet to look for a new class of clerks that would begin working in October 2018.

Furthermore, applicants who are looking to fill vacancies left by Kennedy's current law clerks have let applicants know that he is currently considering retirement. Based on this evidence, it is likely Kennedy will vacate his seat on the Supreme Court prior to midterm elections later next year.

Background of the raging Supreme Court debate

During last year's presidential election, a highly contentious debate surrounded the selection of a new Supreme Court Justice to replace the late, Antonin Scalia. After Barack Obama's Supreme Court nomination, Merrick Garland was blocked from having hearings by the Republican-controlled Senate, and many Americans saw the Presidential election as a referendum on the direction of the Supreme Court.

Liberals argued that should Trump win, he'll have the opportunity to replace Antonin Scalia with someone more conservative while also possibly having the opportunity to replace aging liberal Justices such as Associate Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, 84, and Associate Justice, Stephen Breyer, 78.

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On the flip side, Conservatives feared a Clinton presidency could make way for a liberal court with far too much power with a likely liberal appointment replacing strict constitutionalist, Antonin Scalia.

Impact of Kennedy's retirement on the Supreme Court

A few months ago, Neil Gorsuch was selected to serve on the Supreme Court to replace Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch, with an incredibly conservative interpretation of the law, has now brought a balance of power similar to when Scalia sat on the court with five justices appointed by Republicans and four justices appointed by Democrats.

While appointed by a Republican President, Justice Kennedy has often served as the key swing vote on contentious issues such as healthcare, abortion, and gay marriage. Should Kennedy retire in the next year, President Trump will likely nominate a justice equally conservative to Gorsuch that will further tip the balance in favor of the Republican party for at a minimum the next decade.